The Society

A forum for Natural History

The Linnean Society of London is the world’s oldest active biological society. Founded in 1788 by Sir James Edward Smith (1759–1828), who was its first President. The Society takes its name from the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778) whose botanical, zoological and library collections have been in its keeping since 1829. These unique collections are of continuing fundamental importance as a primary reference for taxonomy. They are enhanced by the Society's own rich library which provides key resources for research.

As it moves into its third century the Society provides a continuous forum for the discussion and advancement of the life sciences. It was at a meeting of the Society in 1858 that papers from Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace outlining the theory of evolution by natural selection were first presented.

Members include professional scientists, naturalists, historians, artists and those generally enthusiastic about the natural world. The Fellowship is international and includes world leaders in each branch of biology who use the Society's premises and publications to communicate new advances in their fields.

The Society seeks to interact with all those interested in the natural world by fusing new research with the rich history of its unique scientific and heritage holdings. Our aim is to encourage and communicate scientific advances through our three world-class journals, special publications and events, while reaching out to future biologists through schools and public engagement programmes, providing extensive educational and research resources digitally. Joint conferences are regularly organized and monthly public meetings (both at lunchtimes and evenings) are held on a variety of topics. Support and recognition is given to those engaged in scientific study through grant schemes, and through medals and awards. The Society’s activities thus contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).